Saturday’s card at Saratoga Casino Hotel was highlighted by a rare double feature. A pair of $16,000 Opens for pacers served as co-features and while each field was comprised of just six horses, both races resulted in some impressive efforts. An Open first-timer stole the show as Bob Uhl’s Velocity Smoke came into Saturday night as a winner of two straight in the conditional ranks but having never raced against top-flight competition in his career.
Coming into the try off back-to-back wins from off the pace that each came in 1:53.1, Velocity Smoke once again was a closer on Saturday as reinsman Phil Fluet got a cover trip for the Uhl trainee who fanned off the cover at the head of the stretch. When he did, he was all business and Velocity Smoke powered past the favored Lake Charles (Luke Hanners) to prevail in a seasonal best 1:52.2.
The Open first timer paid $9.70 to win in the mild upset and led an exacta with Lake Charles second that returned $28. Talking Tom (Chris Long) rounded out a $60 triple. Velocity Smoke is co-owned by his trainer Bob Uhl of Ballston Spa and Steve Delligan of Schenectady.
Unlike the winner of the other co-feature, Moonshine Kisses (Sunshine Beach) is no stranger to the Open Pace. The Jackie Greene-trained stalwart made his return to the Spa on Saturday and was heavily endorsed by the betting public. Bet down to odds of 1-5, Moonshine Kisses took back in the early going as the tempo was hot.
Former Spa Pacer of the Year Crockets Cullen N (Larry Stalbaum) was looking to repeat on the lead but the backfield got into motion late in the mile and driver Jay Randall fanned to the far outside turning for home with Moonshine Kisses. The Greene-trained pacer made a sweeping move in the stretch before stopping the timer in 1:52 in what was the first local Open Pace victory of the season for the talented six year old. Moonshine Kisses is owned by the Kellogg Racing Stables of Queensbury, NY.
Photo: Melissa Simser